Pathways to Wellness

conversation • connection • commitment

Online citizenship

Being an on-line citizen

Many people are interested in ensuring that children and young people have the critical thinking skills they need to be active and informed on-line citizens.  In 2012, MediaSmarts, a Canadian NGO, conducted research on the attitudes and experiences of young Canadians aged 11-17 years and parents with on-line social media.  They found:

  • Many parents are concerned about on-line danger, and feel burdened by the need to monitor their children’s on-line presence.  Parents who engaged in "spying" on their children see it as a necessary evil.  They don't feel good about it, and they are concerned about the effect of monitoring on the relationship they have with their children.
  • Young people said they felt like they were under constant surveillance.  Younger youth (11-12 year olds) accepted the limits placed on them by their parents.  Older youth feel parental monitoring is unnecessary, perhaps because they feel confident that they can keep themselves safe on-line. 
  • Most young people appreciated their parents' good intentions, even when they don’t like their parents' tactics.  And young people see their parents as a helpful resource if their own efforts to handle on-line problems
  • Young people were more likely to share details about their lives with parents who did not routinely monitor their on-line activities.  That is, monitoring may undermine open and honest communication within the family.

Yukon's Chris Ryder, the Executive Director of BYTE (Bringing Youth Towards Equality), has some great ideas on how to bridge the online and in person communication gap between young people and parents.  To learn more, watch the presentation he made in November 2013 at the TEDx Whitehorse event.  The title of his talk was "Guiding youth in a connected world."

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